De Omval Vertelt Social Design Program

De Omval Vertelt team’s design challenge is categorised as follows:

  • Co-create a new identity for the community space.
  • Through creative and stimulating activities, determine the uses of the new square and its surroundings.
  • Facilitate the determination of a group of people who can host and sustain the activities.


This abandoned and dilapidated Omval Café is situated at the heart of a quickly transforming community/neighbourhood; namely De Omval, Amsteldorp, Amstelkwartier and Weespertrekvaart.  In the past, Café De Omval and its surrounding space served as a community-connecting point for visitors, residents and businesses. Also, the Café was identified as one of Amsterdam’s cultural and recreational attractions. However, it has now lost that integration and exchange value. Hence, creating an urban desert, isolation, security and economic risks as deduced from gathered stories, other data and further research.

Impressively different stakeholders see the need to redevelop the Café and its surroundings through a co-creation process to benefit all neighbourhoods and identities, including visitors. In other words, the old café facade is projected to be creatively integrated into a new building design while preserving and improving functions and activities experienced in and around it.

More so, having concluded the Listen and Tell Phase (stories), our partners/clients Culture Matters and Society Fresh involved the Digital Transformation Trainees (us) to develop a Social Design Program, the second phase of their project development plan. This phase entails helping them (our partners) and other stakeholders recreate the communal space/city centre through inclusive and creative activities. Thereby forstering better social cohesion and ownership, while reflecting old structural and social identities.


We are working with a rich dataset of stories provided to us by the partners from the community in the project’s first phase. These stories reveal a cultural-historical identification of the area and highlight the basis for a participatory Social Design Program. At the same time, we are achieving a vision, especially programming, staffing, and igniting energy for the public space in and around the new building that will replace the café. In the same view, the spatial design fulfils sustainable development goals 17, 11 and 1.

Consequently, the following questions among others, are being put into consideration to help us understand the brief and ideate valuably SMART designs for the clients and stakeholders:

  1. What are the existing structure and spatial identity?
  2. What is the social impact of rebuilding this area (De Omval Cafe and surrounding square)?
  3. How can we effectively identify and reflect the community’s commonalities in the project?
  4. To what extent could the project be digitalised and how do we efficiently contribute as DSS trainees?
  5. Who are the most important actors/stakeholders and what are their expectations/requirements?
  6. Is the available data from the first phase of this project enough or should further research/data collection be conducted?
  7. What should be considered a bad project outcome and likewise, a good project outcome?
  8. How do we get the community involved in the design process?

Additionally, in collaboration with Society Fresh and Culture Matters, we are developing a series of designs per sprint. First, to ensure understanding of the project needs amongst all stakeholders. Subsequently, to enhance participation in the design process through creative social design activities/prototypes to elicit creative ideas from the local community to design a new spatial identity for the site. Importantly, these activities are aimed to be sustainable for adoption/incorporation as a community-building initiative.


Our team is a tiny but important part of a huge project, De Omval Vertelt.

Team De Omval Vertelt comprises a diverse group of experienced experts. To ensure a flow of unique perspectives and interpretations of data. This diversity is converged into thoughtful planning and implementation of SMART goals within sprints. Importantly, the team is guided by a Transformation Owner (TO) and Mentor. Who steers the co-design process, ensuring alignment with DSS and other project stakeholders.

Jennifer: Socio-Legal Researcher & Analyst | Human Rights & Development Enthusiat| Management Consulting.

Keigan: Data Analyst – GIS & Earth Observation | Aircraft Pilot | Start-Up Entrepreneur.

Navid: Communal Performing Arts | Media Theory | New Media Art.

Sanaz: IT Services Consultant | Project Management.

During this program, our skills are developed under the following key roles for best project results; SCREAM (SCRUM) master, project process lead, storyteller, tools and instrument master and campus liaison. Interestingly, these roles are systematically switched/rotated amongst the team per sprint for vast personal development & growth.